Every time I’m in Catalunya I’m taken over by a sense awe, an awe at the flags draping from every balcony, from every home, and from every corner. It is intoxicating to see flags that are the same as my own. It is exhilarating… and so I understand the Catalans’ unnerving feeling at seeing a flag not quite their own etched on their passport, but having no say in the matter. I understand them. I feel them. Because even though these words come out in English, my heart knows no other language but Spanish.
But this weekend, I got my wish while watching Monica Puig’s tennis match (coincidentally of Catalan grandparents), claiming Puerto Rico’s first ever Olympic gold. I got to see, albeit on a tiny laptop screen, a stadium full of flags and screaming fans who were told repeatedly by the referee to quiet down. I got to hear the raucous screams from one end of the stadium chanting “Boricua”, while the other end responded with “pa’ que tu lo sepas” (“just so you know”), and the ensuing laughs and smiles that are characteristic when Puertoricans get together. I got to see a nation united and proud, putting aside differences, and forgetting a fiscal cliff that’s defined us for far too long, and eclipsing yet another year of frustrating politics.
This weekend, while watching the nerve wrecking match, I uncontrollably sobbed. I cried throughout the game. I sobbed at its fascinating conclusion. I cried, unable to understand why a world traveler such as myself, claiming nothing as permanent, would have such an ingrained inexplicable emotional attachment to a tiny island– an island lost at sea and engulfed by an empire. But it was there that I knew without the shadow of a doubt that I may travel the world, but I know where I belong. There is a minuscule piece of earth where my heart inevitably returns. It’s a place like no other, where the people are kind and friendships are a life long affair. A place, that would it not exist, I would desperately search my entire life for a place to lay my heart and claim as my own. Fortunately it does exist, and it makes coming home that much sweeter.
My soul is a wandering one, but its compass can always point home… wherever I may roam.
p.s. But in the meantime, there’s the rest of the world to see!